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“Nanocomposite for building constructions and civil infraestructures: European network pilot production line to promote industrial application cases.”

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - NANOLEAP (“Nanocomposite for building constructions and civil infraestructures: European network pilot production line to promote industrial application cases.”)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-06-30

NANOLEAP project aimed at the development of a coordinated network of specialized pilot lines for the production of nanocomposite based products for different civil infrastructure and building applications.
The goal of this infrastructure was to support the research activities of European SMEs in the Construction sector in nanocomposite products enabling the progress of the product to next steps of technology deployment such as installation of industrial lines and enter in the commercialization stage, thus promoting an improvement of the competitiveness of the these enterprises and the creation of employment.

In order to enable these pilot plants offering a suitable service aligned with the needs of the industry (particularly SMEs) some different and complementary strategies were proposed in NANOLEAP:
1. A suitable pre-treatment or functionalisation of nanoparticles or nano-aggregates depending on the intended use to ensure optimal compantibility with the matrix and avoid dispersion problems.
2. Work on technical solutions for the efficient embedding of nanoparticles into the different matrices employing in situ techniques which leads to larger productions.
3. Improvement of nanocomposite production processes in terms of production volume and cost reduction through the proper integration of control systems at the nano-scale to avoid problems in operation with nano-components.
4. Promoting safe-by-design approaches in nanoparticles measurement, detection, and characterization in gas and liquids, complex media and at workplace and use this knowledge for occupational, consumer and environmental exposure measurements, confinement barriers efficiency testing, personal protective and equipement effiency testing
OVERVIEW OF THE RESULTS

The work performed was related to the objectives defined in the proposal. All the deliverables initially programmed have been completed. Consequently, the following main results can be listed (which will be deeply described in part B of the technical reports corresponding to the three reporting period):

• Adaptation, LCA and checking of the Pilot Lines
• Production of key products incorporating nanomaterials
• Definition of the Business Plan and Lead Market Analysis
• Proper dissemination activities and networking
• Internal and external validation (through two Open Call for tenders) of the Pilot Lines
• Edition of standardized catalogues of the services provided by the ENNCPP
• Definition and launching of the Informal Network in order to promote the NANOLEAP project after the its end (30 June 2018).

EXPLOTATION AND DISSEMINATION

Apart from the publications, patents, public deliverables, communication in congresses and workshops, etc., generated, the consortium organized, in order to validate the main objectives of the project, two Open Consultation Workshops and two Open Calls were organized. The main goal of the workshops (January 2017 and June 2018) was to bring together players of the whole nanomaterials value chain and produce fruitful debate on how the pilot projects and specifically how the NANOLEAP Pilot Plants Network can help to bridge the gap to the market and build a suitable and sustainable Business Plan for the Informal Network that must continue the NANOLEAP activities.

Two Open Call for tenders were organized. This way, external companies to get free-access to the Pilot Plants and services Product Characterisation & Testing, IPR Management, Market Analysis & Business Modelling, Nanosafety, Environmental Assessment and Engineering consultancy) of the NANOLEAP Network to conduct particular research projects on nanomaterials of 6 months duration were invited. Five companies were awarded: Thomas Swam (UK), Senergy (UK), Protheus (Spain), Graphenetech (Spain) and Dema (Italy).

Finally, as a way to promote the Informal Network, a flat rate Open Call will be presented and disseminated, through the same channels used in the two Open Calls organized along the project, next September 2018.
IMPACTS SET OUT IN THE WORK PROGRAM

• A European eco-system for high TRL testing and validation of nano-composites, affordable and accessible for SMEs, through technical collaboration between RTOs and composite producers and through identification of all critical value chain players for the market introduction of the final product.
• Enabling of investment decisions for market introduction of novel, cost-effective, safe and sustainable nano-enabled products that demonstrate superior performance in terms of multifunctionality and sustainability.
• Demonstrated scaling-up and increased degree of automation of nanocomposites production lines/processes.
• Contribution to standardisation in the nano metrology field for fast product and process design.
• Promoting safe-by-design approaches in collaboration with the EU nano-safety clusters and contributing towards the framework of EU nanosafety and regulatory strategies.


MARKET PERSPECTIVE

In Europe, there are more than 20 million European SMEs representing 66.5% of all European jobs and employing in 2012 86.8 million people. The SME sector as a whole delivered 57.6% of the gross value added generated by the private, non-financial economy in Europe during the last years. Despite the strategic importance of these companies, SMEs face important challenges to stay competitive in the global markets, and often find difficulties even to compete with larger firms at national level. Barriers related to the lack of funds and inadequate access to finance, limited technical resources or lack of skills / knowledge (innovation management capacity) result in a loss of competitiveness and market opportunities for these SMEs.
Furthermore, the four applications identified by NANOLEAP are aligned with the trends for construction industry and enjoy promising market perspectives.

PROGRESS BEYOND THE ART

Apart from the specific results related with the work planned at the beginning of the project, two Open Call for tenders were organised by the NANOLEAP consortium. This way, external companies to get free-access to the Pilot Plants of the NANOLEAP Network to conduct particular research projects on nanomaterials of 6 months duration were invited. In addition, the consulting services offered by the non-Pilot Plant Partners of NANOLEAP (Product Characterisation & Testing, IPR Management, Market Analysis & Business Modelling, Nanosafety, Environmental Assessment and Engineering consultancy) were also offered as supplement to the pilot plant access. As summarized in the WP7 description, five companies were awarded: Thomas Swam (UK), Senergy (UK), Protheus (Spain), Graphenetech (Spain) and Dema (Italy). According to the surveys completed by these tenders, the five project were successfully conducted and the external partners were all satisfied by NANOLEAP services. In addition, the tenders expect the results obtained have an economic impact in their activities.

Finally, as a way to promote the Informal Network, whose Business Plan has been defined in Deliverable 9.3 a flat rate Open Call will be presented and disseminated, through the same channels used in the two Open Calls organized along the project, next September 2018. As a reference platform, the NANOLEAP website will be maintained for at least the next two years.
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